April 22, 2021
Whole Number 186
THE FAMILY OF 32. RICHARD SPARKS (ca.1720/25-1792)
OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
AND ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
by Russell E. Bidlack
Map of New Jersey
(Page 5151 is a map of New Jersey showing location of Cranberry in Middlesex County)
Map of New Jersey reproduced from Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States (New York, Ensign, Bridgrnan & Fanning, 1855) showing location of Cranberry (now called Cranbury Center) in Middlesex County. The following information is given regarding Cranberry on p.95: "Cranberry, post-office, Middlesex Co., N.J., 22 miles N.E. of Trenton; frorn Washington 188 miles. Watered by Cranberry brook."
(Page 5155 contains a map of Pennsylvania showing the location of Forward Township, Allegheny County within the "Forks of the Yough."It shows the approximate location of the claim for land made by Richard Sparks.)
Portion of "Strearn Map of Pennsylvania" issued by Sanitary Water Board and Water and Power Resources Board, Harrisburg, showing location of Forward Township, Allegheny County, within the "Forks of the Yough." The claim for land made by Richard Sparks was located near the letter "F" of Forward Township on this map.
The following review of previously published material on the family of 32. Richard Sparks in The Sparks Quarterly is provided here as an introduction to the article that follows devoted to Richard's son, 32.2 Benjamin Sparks, who was born ca. 1754 in New Jersey and who died in 1801 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Each of Benjamin's four brothers, 32.1 James Sparks, 32.4 Walter Sparks, 32.3 Richard Sparks, Jr., and 32.5 Daniel Sparks, as well as their father, has been the subject of a separate article published in a past issue of the Quarterly.
In the Quarterly of December 1971, Whole No. 76, pp. 1440-46, we presented the information we had gathered relating to 32. Richard Sparks, father of Benjamin and his four brothers named above. In that article, we called the father simply Richard Sparks. Although he had a son also named Richard, in no document of his time have we found him, the father, called "Sr." Here we also omit "Sr." in our references to him, but we will refer to as "the elder Richard" or "the senior Richard" on occasion to distinguish him from his son of the same name.
Since 1971, we have found a number of additional facts and clues regarding Richard Sparks that we will incorporate in this review of his life. There are also some corrections resulting from further research. Although in 1971, we believed that he had been born ca. 1725 and died ca. 1792, we now believe that he may have been born as early as 1720 and that we can say with certainty that he died in 1792.
No proof has been found regarding where Richard Sparks had been living prior to his appearance as a witness to a will in Middlesex County, New Jersey, in the autumn of 1750. He was an adult by then, and he was probably a married man. This writer continues to believe that he was probably from the Salem County, New Jersey, Sparks family that had been living there for three generations, and in which the name "Richard" was commonly used as a forename.
It was on September 3, 1750, that Richard Sparks signed his name as a witness to the will of William Story who was identified in the will as a resident of New Brunswick in Middlesex County, New Jersey. There were two other witnesses to William Story's will: Stephen Warne and Walter Wall. Because persons who witnessed legal documents in those days were nearly always neighbors and friends of the individual creating the document, we can assume that Walter Wall, Stephen Warne, and Richard Sparks lived near William Story, and that they were well acquainted with each other. As will be seen later, both Stephen Warne and Walter Wall would become close neighbors of Richard Sparks in Pennsylvania in years to come. There may even have been family ties among them.
On March 13, 1750/51, Richard Sparks served as witness to another will, that of James Wall, also a resident of Middlesex County, New Jersey. Again, Stephen Warne was a witness; a man named John Bazley was the third witness. (The double dating here resulted from the fact that England, until the autumn of 1752, continued to use the old Julian calendar under which the New Year began on March 25, rather than the Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholic countries in Europe in 1582.)
On February 2, 1752, Benjamin Applegate, a resident of Nottingham Township in Burlington County, New Jersey, made his will, in which he designated Richard Sparks and Walter Ward as his executors in the settlement of his estate. Benjamin Applegate's wife, whose first name was Elizabeth, had died earlier. Applegate family historians have wondered whether Elizabeth might have been a sister of Richard Sparks. Although we have found no evidence to support this speculation, there can be no question but that the Applegates and the Sparkses, as well as members of the Wall family, were closely associated over at least three generations. There has been a tradition among several descendants of Richard Sparks that his wife had the maiden name Johana Applegate. Knowing that Richard Sparks was one of the executors chosen by Benjamin Applegate to administer his estate, it has been suggested that Richard could have been a son-in-law of Benjamin Applegate, but in Benjamin's identification of three daughters in his will, none was called by other than her forename; the names of married daughters usually included their married names in documents of this nature at that time. It is interesting to note, however, that, while Benjamin Applegate left little more than a token inheritance to each of his four oldest sons (Thomas, Benjamin, Jr.. William, and Richard), he was more generous to his youngest son, Daniel, not yet of age, as well as to his two daughters who, likewise, were under age. As the following extract from his will indicates, his eldest daughter received only a featherbed.
...I give to My Daughter Johannah a feather bed in full of her portion and all the Rest of my Estate both Rale [i.e., real] and personall to be Kept att Intrestt by my Executors and theay to put my son Danel to a trade and one third of said Estate I give to son Daniel when he shall arrive att the age of twenty one years and the second third of sd. Estate I give to my daughter Alse [nickname for Alice] att the age of Eighteen years and all the Rest of my Estate I give to my Daughter Jomine [nickname for Jamima] and if any of these three Children should die before age that money to be Devided Equil between the other two last named..."
The daughters Alice and Jamima were obviously under age (18 for females), so only Johannah, whose share of the estate was a featherbed, could have been married at the time her father made his will. That Johannah could have been the wife of Richard Sparks has been discounted by some Applegate researchers in the belief that she married FNU John Feavel. Others, however, maintain that Johannah (Applegate) Feavel was a daughter of Benjamin Applegate's son, Richard Applegate, and was thus a granddaughter of Benjamin.
It is generally accepted among Applegate researchers that Benjamin Applegate's daughter, Alice (whom he called "Alse" in his will), was married later to Walter Wall, and that Jamima (whom he called "Jomine)," was later married to Isaac Morris.
Because Benjamin Applegate signed his name by mark, we know that he dictated his will to someone who wrote it for him. It was the custom for a person doing the writing to serve, also, as a witness. It was James I. Redford who signed first as a witness, followed by Elizabeth Readford [sic] who signed by mark, and the third witness was William Miller who was the writer (and rather poor speller, as the above extract illustrates). Descendants of Walter Wall, who was closely associated with the Applegate and Sparks families, are convinced that Miller misunderstood Benjamin Applegate in his dictation of his will, and that it was Walter Wall, not a man named "Walter Ward," who was the second executor for Benjamin's estate settlement. Although Walter Wall's marriage to Benjamin's daughter, Alice, had not yet occurred when her father dictated his will, perhaps there was the understanding he would become Benjamin's son-in-law in due course.
No proof has been found that the wife of Richard Sparks was Johannah Applegate, to whom Benjamin left a featherbed, and there is even another possible Applegate female who could have been his wife.
A century ago, there was a man named J. Sutton Wall who held the post of Chief Draughtsman in the Department of Internal Affairs of Pennsylvania, and who was a descendant of Richard Sparks through Richard Sparks, Jr. Mr. Wall became interested in his family history in 1884, according to one of his extant letters, and by 1907 he had "collected a large amount of interesting and valuable data which I hope to commence putting in intelligible shape during the coming winter." (Letter to O. G. Wall, Friday Harbor, WA, dated September 9, 1907.) Unfortunately, all of his papers and research were lost in a fire before he could complete his project. Because he wrote numerous letters to persons whom he thought might have records that would be of interest to him, and because a number of those letters were saved by the recipients and their descendants and have been shared with the present writer, we know something of his research. In a letter that he wrote on February 14, 1906, to a Mrs. McGeehan in Parkville, Maine, who descended from both the Wall and Applegate families, he stated: "I have lately learned that my great-grand father, Col. Richard Sparks's mother, was CHARITY APPLEGATE." Unfortunately, J. Sutton Wall did not include his source for making this assertion. (Col. Richard Sparks was Richard, Jr., son of Richard Sparks, subject of this sketch.)
Another record pertaining to the name of the wife of Richard Sparks must be noted here because of its being "in print," although it is in error. Over forty years ago, this writer corresponded with a Mrs. Sara Sparks (Lynch) Douglas of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a great-grandchild of Benjamin Sparks, subject of the article beginning on page 5174. Mrs. Douglas, who had joined the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution on the basis of Benjamin Sparks's service in the Revolution, was most generous in sharing her research, but she had made an unfortunate error in her DAR application that has been perpetuated in the Society's archives. Mrs. Douglas had copied two unrelated items from Vol. I of the Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society that she interchanged in her note taking. Both of these records had been reproduced in the above volume from the "Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York: Marriages from 11 December, 1639, to 26 August, 1801." Following is an accurate transcription of these two items:
(page 14) 1646, August 15. Lovis Hulet to Helena Applegate.
(page 259) 1785, October 6. Richard Sparks to Elizabeth Peaceable. In her DAR application, Mrs. Douglas stated:
"The said 32.2 Benjamin Sparks was the child of Richard Sparks, born [blank], died in 1815, and his wife Helena Applegate."
It was Richard Sparks, Jr., brother of Benjamin Sparks, who died in 1815. The Helena Applegate for whom Mrs. Douglas found the 1646 marriage record not only lived a century earlier than Richard Sparks, father of Benjamin, but she married Lovis Hulet, while the marriage of a Richard Sparks to Elizabeth Peaceable in 1785 occurred about 35 years after Benjamin's birth. We have found no further record of the Richard Sparks who was married in New York City to Elizabeth Peaceable in 1785, but he was certainly not the Richard Sparks who is the subject of the present sketch.
It would appear that Richard Sparks of New Jersey was a member of the Presbyterian Church in the village of Cranbury (sometimes spelled "Cranberry") in the township of Cranbury in Middlesex County. (See map on page 5151.) It is in teresting to note that the Sparkses of Salem County, New Jersey, were also Presbyterians. An article entitled "Records of the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury" by Edward J. Raser appeared in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. XXVII, July/October 1952. Mr Kaser stated:
The First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury was organized ca. 1734 to serve the area bounded by the churches at New Brunswick, Princeton, Freehold (Old Tennent), and Allentown (Upper Freehold). No place of worship was built until 1740, and until 1744 when Rev. Charles McKnight was installed as the first pastor the congregation was dependent on supplies from other churches to perform ministerial duties.
Rev. McKnight served the congregations both at Cranbury and Allentown, but after considerable conflict between the two groups, he was dismissed to the latter place in 1758. The ministry remained vacant until 1762 when Thomas Smith was installed. Rev. Smith was constantly afflicted with an infirmity which robbed him of much of his energy, resulting in his exercising "the opposite point of exactness" in preserving records of his service. The vacancy resulting from his sudden death in 1789 was filled by Gilbert Tennent Snowden in 1790.
Among papers in possession of the church is a brief history written by Mr. Snowden prior to his decease in 1797. In the opening paragraph he laments the "great carelessness in preserving the Records of the Church," making an accurate account of the early work of the church virtually impossible....
Had marriage and baptismal records survived in the Cranbury Church, some of the mysteries regarding Richard Sparks and his family might have been solved, since a record does survive showing that on February 6, 1758, he contributed to a fund for building a parsonage for the pastor to occupy at Cranbury.
No later record pertaining to Richard Sparks has been found in New Jersey, and our earliest record of his being in western Pennsylvania is dated 1770. It appears that he owned no land in either Middlesex or Burllngton County--perhaps his occupation was that of a tradesman rather than that of a farmer.
There is some reason to believe that Richard Sparks could have moved his family in the early 1760s to what was then the western frontier. We know that Richard's third son, who was also named Richard, was stolen by the Shawnee Indians when he was a small child, perhaps four or five years old. Such an occurrence could scarcely have taken place in New Jersey at that point in time. Our knowledge of little Richard's abduction is dependent upon the story having been preserved in records left by people who had known Rlchard, Jr. and had heard his own account of the experience.
As a U.S. Army officer in the years following the American Revolution, Richard Sparks, Jr. had advanced to the rank of colonel in the Second Division. Suffering from a severe stroke in 1814, he had been forced to resign his commission and died soon thereafter, on July 2, 1815.
A fellow officer, Col. G. W. Sevier, who was also a brother of Sparks's second wife, was interviewed years later by the historian, Lyman C. Draper, who made rather detailed notes regarding Sevier's memories of Col. Sparks. Col. Sevier, however, could not recall Sparks telling him where it was that he had been taken by the Shawnees, other than that he had been playing near his parents' home. Draper added the following note to his transcription of this interview: "Col. Geo. Wilson thinks Col. Sparks was captured near Pittsburgh when 4 or 5 years old-kept till 17 or 18." Others believed that Sparks had been 15 or 16 when he was released. In any case, we know that Richard Sparks, Jr. had been released by the Shawnees in February 1775; he must have been stolen by them between ca. 1763 and 1765. (Draper's manuscripts are preserved in the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison; the notes taken during his interview with Col. Sevier are filed in a section labeled "30-S.")
An army officer named James Magoffin, who had once acted as Col. Sparks's secretary, stated in a letter dated November 5, 1852, that Sparks had told him that he had been captured "by the savages, when a child, near Wheeling, on the Ohio." Wheeling is some fifty miles southwest from Pittsburgh; we may wonder if Magoffin might have confused the place where he had been abducted with that where he was later released. This release was at Point Pleasant, located near the mouth of the Kanawha River, where it flows into the Ohio River.
The release of Richard Sparks, Jr. had come in February 1775 following the Battle of Point Pleasant fought in the previous October during the colonial war known as Lord Dunmore's War. (Lord Dunmore was then the Royal Governor of Virginia and his troops were Virginians.) After their severe defeat in this battle, the Shawnees agreed to give up all of their white captives they had taken over many years. Word went out that this release would take place in the following February at Point Pleasant, and families, including parents of lost youngsters, journeyed there from afar hoping to find their lost ones. Having forgotten his parents, Sparks recalled in later years that when his mother recognized him and began to cry, he thought he was going to be burned at the stake--the only occasion in the past when he had seen an Indian woman cry had been on such an occasion. Taking him home to what is now Forward Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, his parents and siblings set about "civilizing" him. What an interesting account must have been related by those parents in later years, of their arduous journey to Point Pleasant in that winter of 1775 to seek their lost boy, and with what joy they brought him home! (The Magoffin letter to Henry R. Schoolcraft appears in the latter's Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Part IV, Philadelphia, 1854, pp. 629-632.)
It was noted earlier in this sketch that the elder Richard Sparks was closely associated with the Wall and Applegate families in Middlesex and Burlington Counties in New Jersey in the 1750s. This close association continued after members of all three families lived in what became, and is today, Forward Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Wall family traces its history to a 17th century immigrant named Walter Wall. A record of the Wall family appears in a history of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, edited by Thomas Cushing and published in Chicago by A. Warner & Co. in 1889. The following is taken from p. 439.
The Wall Pamily. The history of this family in America dates from an early period in the history of the country. In 1640 Lady Deborah Moody, the widow of a Wiltshire baronet, organized an association of some fifty persons who came to America and among them was Walter. This association first established at Lynn, Mass., remaining there until 1643, when they removed to Gravesend on Long Island. In the latter part of 1657 Walter Wall and others emigrated to New Jersey with their families, where they made a purchase embracing the present county of Middlesex and part of Monmouth..…Walter Wall found himself the possessor of valuable land. Here his son Garret became a man of some prominence in public affairs, his name being mentioned in Middletown town-book as receiver of taxes, and his son, Jarat, or Jarrett, was among the leading citizens.,,,,.James Wall, son of Humphrey Wall, and grandson of Jarrett Wall, above mentioned, together with his brother Walter, moved from their Jersey homes in 1766 to find greater freedom and change of scene in then "western wilds," west of the mountains. Arriving at the forks of the "Yough," as it was then called (which included that portion of the counties of Allegheny and Westmoreland now lying between the Youghiogheny and Monoagahela rivers, comprising the townships of Lincoln, Elizabeth, and Forward in Allegheny, and Rostraver township in Westmoreland, they built cabins, cleared the land and commenced the cultivation of the frontier land, surrounded by Indians and the wild animals of the forest. In the spring of 1769 they revisited New Jersey, and in the fall of the same year returned to their new homes with their families. Several other New Jersey families came with them, among them the Applegates, Pierces, Ketchams, Johnsons, Imlays, Smiths, and others....
The family of Richard Sparks is not mentioned among those who accompanied the Walls back to the "forks of the Yough," yet from the location of Richard's land there, we believe there can be no doubt that he was with the Walls and Applegates from the time of their initial settlement. Considering the likely place and date of the abduction of Richard, Jr. by the Shawnee Indians, we can wonder whether it was the Richard Sparks family who may have been the first from New Jersey to the "forks of the Yough." (See map on page 5155 for this location.)
Recalling that Stephen Warne had been a witness with Richard Sparks for two wills in Middlesex County in 1750 and 1751, it is interesting to note that the Warne family also migrated to the "forks of the Yough." The following quotation regarding the Warne family is taken from A Genealogy of the Warne Family in America by the Rev. George Warne Labaw, published in New York in 1911, p. 82.
Joseph Warne, died before 1790, quite an old man, married Dorcas Miller. Born, reared, and married in New Jersey. He and his wife, with others from New Jersey, among them the Millers, the Allens, the Parkinsons, etc., in 1768-1770, went to Western Pennsylvania and formed in the S.E. part of what is now Allegheny Co., in Forward Township, but then Westmoreland Co., and Elizabeth Township, settlement that was at that time, and has ever since been known as "The Jersey Settlement."
The route taken from Carlisle was southwest down the valley into Maryland a few miles over the border, then west over the mountains, and north into Pennsylvania again, through what is now Bedford County to the county seat of the same name, and beyond it some distance, when the course was west and southwest to the point of destination, a matter of perhaps 175 miles, through the wilderness from Carlisle. Mr. and Mrs. Warne located on 300, or as another authority says 278 1/2, acres of land near the present village of Sunnyside. This land was surveyed to him March 21, 1786... bounded by lands of Andrew Pearce on the north, Jonathan and Stephen Pearce on the east, Joseph Beckett, Esq. on the south, and Peter Johnston on the west....
The Richard Sparks family probably followed the same route fron New Jersey to the "forks of the Yough" as did the Warne family. Stephen Warne, witness with Richard Sparks in Middlesex County, New Jersey in 1750 and 1751, is believed to have been a brother of Joseph Warne. Joseph Warne's oldest son was also named Stephen.
The boundary line between Pennsylvania and Virginia (since the Civil War that part of Virginia has been West Virginia) was in dispute as early as 1749. The matter came to a head with the beginning of the French and Indian War when both colonies feared that the French, with their lndian allies, would invade their western borders. The governors of the two colonies recognized the need for an American fort at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, but it was Virginia's Governor Dinwiddie who set out to build such a fort in the summer of 1754. He also announced that he would recruit a military force of sufficient strength to defend the area, and that such recruits would be rewarded with land grants east of the Ohio River. While agreeing on the need for such a fort, Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania notified Governor Dinwiddie that under his own colony's Royal Charter, the proposed Virginia fort was in Pennsylvania and that the land that Dinwiddie was offering to volunteer soldiers was Pennsylvania land. Dinwiddie, however, proceeded with his plan.
We here quote from a lengthy account of the Pennsylvania and Virginia Controversy that was prepared by Major Robert H. Foster as an introduction to a record of the "Virginia Entries" published in the Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 3:
In the summer of 1754 a company of Virginians, under command of Captain Trent, arrived at the confluence of the rivers and commenced to build the proposed fort; but before they had completed their labors a force of one thousand French and Indians, with eighteen pieces of cannon, appeared before the unfinished stockade and compelled the little body of forty-one men present for its defense to surrender. The French immediately built "Fort Duquesne," and remained in possession until forced, by the expedition of General Forbes to destroy and abandon it in November 1758, its place being taken by Fort Pitt, built in 1759.
The claim of Virginia embraced all the land west of Laurel Hill, included within the present counties of Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and parts of Allegheny and Beaver; whilst the Pennsylvania claim rested entirely upon the charter of Charles II, King of Great Britain, to William Penn, by which the lands granted to Penn were to extend westward five degrees longitude from the river Delaware, and there had been sufficient investigation to convince the Pennsylvania Proprietaries that the point at which the two rivers united to form the Ohio was some distance within the limits of the royal grant to them. For twenty years, however, after 1754, there was no official correspondence between the authorities of the two colonies in relation to their claims, and, although the military grants promised in the proclamation of Gov. Dinwiddie were never surveyed or given to the persons who were to receive them, settlements within the bounds of the territory in dispute under Virginia rights were encouraged, and in a few years, after success had crowned the efforts of General Forbes to wrest from the French their hold upon the Ohio, and Colonel Bouquet's expedition had driven away the Indians and relieved the beleaguered garrison at Fort Pitt, pioneer settlers began to appear along the Monongahela Valley.
On the part of the Pennsylvania authorities no rights were granted for lands west of the Allegheny mountains until after the treaty at Fort Stanwix in November, 1768 by which the Indian title to that section of the State was extinguished.
As the controversy between the two colonies continued into the 1770s, the settlers in the valleys of the Ohio and Monongahela became increasingly partisan, depending upon whether they identified with the North or the South. We can be sure that Richard Sparks, like his neighbors in the "Jersey Settlement," was on the side of Pennsylvania. All of them, however, were "squatters," without legal titles to the land which they hoped, eventually, to acquire. All being former neighbors or at least acquaintances back in Middlesex and adjoining counties in New Jersey, they were able to agree on the boundary lines between each man's "tomahawk claim," i.e. the lines of notched trees marking the boundaries. They were not greatly concerned a rival might "steal" their land before such time as their legal right to it could be established.
(In the Quarterly of December 1990, we published an article entitled "Charles Sparks (ca.1730-ca.1771) of Maryland & Pennsylvania" pertaining to a Sparks farnily unrelated to Richard Sparks, that settled on land included in the part of the Pennsylvania and Virginia disputed territory that became Washington County in Pennsylvania. This Charles Sparks and his brothers, George and William, sons of Joseph Sparks who died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749, believed that their "Tomahawk Clairns" were in Virginia. See also an earlier issue of the Quarterly, that of June 1963, Whole No. 42, pp. 728-35, for an article on the brothers of Charles Sparks, George and Willlam.)
Although we will probably never know exactly when and how the boundary lines between the Jersey Settlement "squatters" were agreed upon, it was the old "metes and bounds" system that was used, often resulting in very odd shapes. The typical such claim was for 300 acres, although when actual surveys were rnade, the acreage was seldom exactly 300. As seen on the land map shown on page 5163 Richard Sparks's 300-acre tract, which actually turned out to be 308, was bordered by those of old New Jersey friends (perhaps relatives), named Applegate: Samuel, Benjamin, Williarn, and Daniel, as well as James Wall. Close by were the claims of other forrner New Jersey neighbors: John Iinbly, Andrew Pearce, Daniel Thompson, Joseph Warne, and John McClure.
William Penn and his heirs were the initial owners of all the land comprising the colony of Pennsylvania, selling or granting it to individuals and groups through the years. Called the colony's "Proprietaries," the Penns rernained loyal to England frorn the commencement of the American Revolution. John N. Boucher in his History of Westmoreland County, Pennsvlvania (New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1906) explained the following course of events in this regard.
Our state government by its representatives which followed the Declaration of Independence, rightly reasoned that a power siding with a foreign nation at war with us should not hold such dorninion over any considerable part of a free commonwealth. Therefore, on June 28, 1779, they passed the "Divesting Act," which took from the Penns rnost of their territory, leaving thern only private reservations, and vested it in the Comrnonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Although the new Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began granting patents to land not previously granted by the Penns, it did not attempt to do so in the vast area claimed also by Virginia. The immigrants in the "Jersey Settlernent" thus had to wait until 1785, when the U.S. Congress settled the Pennsylvania/ Virginia dispute, to apply for warrants for the purchase of the tracts on which they had been living as squatters.
When imrnigrants first began squatting on land that would come to be called the "Jersey Settlement," it was in Rostraver Township in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1771, Bedford County was created from Cumberland, and the "Jersey Settlement" became a part of the new county, still in Rostraver Township. A tax list survives for Bedford County in 1773 on which appears the name of Richard Sparks; his tax was four shillings. Later that sarne year, however, because of the growing population, the county of Westmoreland was cut off from Bedford County, with Rostraver now a township in that new county. Then, in 1788, the "Jersey Settlement" was contained in still another new county, that of Allegheny. During the next 62 years, all or parts of eleven other Pennsylvania counties were created frorn Allegheny, but the "Jersey Settlement" remained within Allegheny County (its southern end), comprising the township of Elizabeth. In 1869, Forward Township, containing what had once been Richard Sparks's land, was cut off from Elizabeth Township.
Just as Pennsylvania had organized the disputed territory within its system of county government, so also had Virginia. Virginia included it initially within its county of Augusta; but in 1775, however, Virginia formed the District of West Augusta to govern the area, Then on January 6, 1777, this "District" was divided into three distinct counties: Monongahela, Ohio, and Yohogania. The "Jersey Settlement" was now within Virginia's Yohogania County.
Early in the 20th Century, an historian named Boyd Crumrine discovered that the minutes of the court for Yohogania County, between December 23, 1776, and August 1780, had been preserved by the Washington County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society, while similar records for Ohio County were in the County Court in Wheeling, West Virginia. Crumrine also located land and probate records during the brief period that the District of West Augusta existed. He transcribed and published these records over the years 1902 to 1905 in an obscure publication called the Annals of the Carnegie Museum. This work has since been republished by the Genealogical Pub. Co. of Baltimore.
Fortunately, through this Virginia source, we have found the references to Richard Sparks, given below. (The page numbers are from Vol. II of the Annals..., all pertaining to Yohogania County.)
At a Court Continued and held for Yohogania County, August 24, 1778...
Ordered that Andrew Pearce, Richd. Johnston, James Wall and Richd. Sparks or any three of them being first sworn do appraise the Estate of Samuel Ketchum decd. and make return to next Court.
Samuel Ketchum had died intestate, and at the same meeting of this county court Elizabeth Ketchum, his widow, and William Ketchum, his brother, had been appointed to administer this estate. When the court met again on October 26, 1778, the following entry was made in the Yohogania County Minute Book (p. 268).
Inventory of the Estate of Samuel Ketchum deceased, returned by the appraisers and Ordered to be Recorded.
The widow of Samuel Ketchum named Elizabeth was Elizabeth Sparks; without doubt she was a daughter of the elder Richard Sparks. She was married, second, to Moses Kuykendell, a widower. See page 5173 for further information about her.
Typical of settlers on a new frontier, those of the "Jersey Settlement" soon gave attention to their need for roads, the building and maintenance of which being the responsibility of the owners of land in their vicinity. When a petition was presented to the justices of a county court regarding the need for a road in a given place, it was customary for the court to appoint men in the immediate area to "view" whether, indeed, a road was needed and, if so, where. At the Yohogania County Court meeting on April 27, 1779, the following action was taken (p. 334).
On the Petn. [petition] of Andrew Heath and others Ordered that Thos. Applegate, Richd. Sparkss, Jas. & Walter Wall or any three of them do view a Road from Wm. Anderson to Thos. Applegates and make retn. to next Court.
The next minute pertaining to this proposed road was made during a meeting of the justices May 24, 1779. (p. 344)
Ordered that the Road from Thomas Applegates to Will'm Andersons as returned by the viewers keeping along as the road is already opened, be confirmed. Thomas Applegate is appointed overseer of sd. Road and that the Tithables within three miles do cut open and keep sd. Road in repair.
Another Yohogania County Court rninute pertaining to Richard Sparks is dated October 27, 1779, and it also pertains to his involvement with a road. (p. 395)
Ordered that Richd. Sparks, Jas. Wall & Walter Wall & Andrew Pearce Jr. do view a Road from the new store on Monongehala to the dividing Ridge Road near Jas. Wilsons & leading to Colo. Cooks.
In the colonial period, county courts, cornprised of the justices of the peace within the county, regulated the arnount individuals could charge the public for certain specified services, such as proprietors of ordinaries (inns and taverns), rnillers, and ferry boat operators. It appears that in 1779 a man narned James Gray, who frequently was charged as a transgressor in one forrn or another in Yohogania County, had charged for providing a ferry boat service across the Monongahela River without obtaining a license. One of the persons so served was Richard Sparks. The court minute (p. 342) is as follows, dated April 1779:
Ordered that James Gray be sum'd [summoned] to answer the information of the States Atto. for ferrying over the River Monongehala e rec'd. 3 S. [shillings] for the same cont'y [contrary] to Law the following person at the following times.
Joseph Shelton & one horse. March 27th, 1779
Jarnes Bevard at the same time.
Danl. McClintock & one horse 29th March 1779.
29 Pack Horses 27th March and took Rec.t [receipt] for the sarne of David Kennedy.
Richd. Sparks & one horse 27th March.
It is interesting to note that at the next meeting of this court, on May 24, 1779, it was
Ordered that Samuel Newell be appointed to keep a ferry over the River Monongehala from the new store to the opposite Shore and that he keep one good Boat with Sufficient hands to work her and that he give Bond with Security according to Law at the next Court."
The inhabitants of the "Jersey Settlement" must have found it awkward to be subject to two rival county courts, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Virginia, but the prob!em was finally solved by the Revolutionary War. The Penn farnily and the Royal Governor of Virginia were no longer factors in this long dispute, and it was now in the interest of both states to cooperate in helping to gain independence from England. Comrnissioners representing the two states met in Baltimore, and on August 31, 1779, they agreed "To extend Mason and Dixon's line due west five degrees of longitude, to be computed from the river Delaware, for the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, and that a rneridian drawn frorn the western extremity thereof to the northern lirnit of the said State be the western boundary of Pennsylvania forever." Both states ratified this agreement in 1780, but there were delays and the surveys required were not cornpleted until 1785. These boundary lines were promptly approved by the Continental Congress, and the "Jersey Settlernent" was now officially a part of Pennsylvania.
A Congressional Act of April 1, 1784, now becarne effective for the state of Pennsylvania to sell "unappropriated lands" enabling squatters, including Richard Sparks, in the Forks of the Yough to begin the procedure to acquire legal possession of their "tomahawk claims."
The first step that a squatter in the Forks of the Yough was required to take to claim "vacant land," (i.e. land not previously claimed) was to request that a warrant be issued to him. A warrant was not a title in itself, but when granted it was an order from the state's Land Office to the Surveyor General of Pennsylvania to have the tract located and surveyed. It was the Surveyor General who, in person or by a deputy, then determined whether there had been an earlier claimant and, if not, he conducted the survey and reported his findings back to the Land Office. A warrant was then issued to the claimant with which the individual could then request a patent, which was equivalent to a deed, at the same time making the required payment (ten pounds per 100 acres).
It was on July 10, 1786, at which time the "Jersey Settlement" was still within Rostraver Township in Westmoreland County, that the Land Office requested John Lukens, the Surveyor General, to make the survey of Richard Sparks's claim. The official copy of this 1786 document survives at the Bureau of Archives and History of the Division of Land Records in Harrisburg and is reproduced on page 5162. The most interesting date on this document is that following the words "Interest to commence from the..." The meaning of these words was "the earliest date of habitation by law," i.e., the year in which the individual claimed to have made improvements and had begun living on his tract of land. While the final digit of the year written on Richard Sparks's warrant is blurred, other records prove that it was intended for the "first of March 1770."
As noted earlier, descendants of the Wall family have long stated that James and Walter Wall had gone to the Forks of the Yough in 1766 and had returned for their families in 1768. Yet the "Interest to commence" date on each of their warrants was given as the "first day of March 1769. There is good reason to assume, we believe, that Richard Sparks had marked off his claim at least as early as the Wall brothers had marked off theirs.
As will be seen from the portion of the township land map reproduced on page 5163, the tract (308 acres) for which Richard Sparks obtained a warrant dated July 10, 1786, was bordered by land claimed by the following: Samuel Applegate, James Wall, Benjamin Applegate, James Dean, Andrew Pearce, Daniel Applegate, and Daniel Thompson. While we do not have copies of the warrants for all seven of these individuals, it is interesting to note that James Wall claimed to have settled on his tract of land (300 acres that, when surveyed, comprised over 322 acres) on March 1, 1769, as did also Walter Wall, whose tract adjoined that of James Wall. Thomas Applegate's tract adjoining that of James Dean was also dated from April 1, 1769. Daniel Applegate, however, dated his claim as of March 1, 1775. Benjamin Applegate's tract was described in its warrant as "Four hundred Acres of Land including an Improvement adjoining land of Walter Wall, James Wall, Richard Sparks, and William Applegate in Rostraver Township." When surveyed, however, Benjamin Applegate's tract was found to comprise only 397 and a quarter acres. Richard Sparks's warrant described his tract as "Three hundred Acres of Land including an Improvement on the waters of Applegate Run adjoining land of Benjamin Applegate and others in Rostraver Township."
As shown on the warrant of Richard Sparks, he believed that his claim contained 300 acres. When it was surveyed, however, it was found to comprise a total of 308 acres. The survey was conducted on May 15, 1787.
On May 1, 1786, even before receiving his warrant, Richard Sparks signed an "agreement" that was recorded many years later in Allegheny County Deed Book 35, p. 310. This document reads as follows:
Know all men by these presents that I Richard Sparks of Rostraver Township and County of Westmoreland and State of Pennsylvania am holden and firmly bound unto Benjamin Sparks, of the same place, his heirs, executors, administrators & assigns in the Just sum of Four hundred pounds of good and lawful money of Pennsylvania unto the which payrnent well and truly to be made and dune. I do hereby bind myself my heirs, executors, and adrninistrators firmly by these presents, sealed with our Seals, dated the First day of May one Thousand seven hundred and eighty six. The Condition of the above obligation is such that the above bounded Richard Sparks, his heirs, executors & administrators, do well and truly make over and convey unto the above named Benjamin Sparks, his heirs, Executors or administrators & assigns, a certain tract or plantation whereon the said Benjamin Sparks now lives Containing, One hundred and forty eight Acres, at or upon the First day of October next, then his present obligation to be void and of no effect, or else to be and remain in full force and virtue.
Signed sealed & delivered in the [signed] Richard Sparks
presence of his
Benjamin X Applegate [and] Thornas Pears
Twenty-three years after this document was signed by Richard Sparks, a justice of the peace named Joseph Beckett added the following statement to it:
Allegheny County S.S.
Before me, Joseph Beckett, one of the justices of the Peace for the County aforesaid personally came Thomas Pears one of the subscribing Witnesses to the obligation annexed to this piece of paper whereon these presents is wrote, and being sworn as Law directs, deposeth and saith that he was personnally present heard and saw Richard Sparks therein named, sign, Seal and deliver the sarne as for his act and deed, and the name Benjamin Applegate was acknowledged by the said Benjamin by putting his mark there, to which he subscribed as a witness thereto of such selling and delivering and that the narned Thornas Pears is of the proper Handwriting of this afformant, which he subscribed as witness of such sealing and delivery.
[signed] Thomas Pears
Sworn and subscribed before
me the Sixth day of Nov
A. Domini 1809.
[signed] Joseph Beckett
Recorded 5 May, 1829, (Book 38, p.310)
The significance of the fact that this "agreement" was never converted into a deed, and the delayed date of Joseph Beckett's affirmation, after which a decade passed before it was recorded in the deed book cited above, will be explained later In this article.
It is at this point in our tracing of the life of Richard Sparks that we face a mystery. While it is apparent in his "agreement" with Benjamin that Richard anticipated receiving a patent to his land by October 1, 1786, so that he could provide his son with a deed for the land prornised hirn, yet no patent was ever issued to Richard Sparks. While there was no time lirnit placed for a warrant to be converted into a patent (deed) frorn the state, most settlers in the Forks of the Yough did so quite promptly. Benjarnin Applegate, for example, whose land adjoined that of Richard Sparks, and was:surveyed on May 5 1787, obtained his patent on November 28, 1787. Daniel Applegate, whose survey had been on September 2, 1786, however, waited until January 19, 1789, to obtain his patent. Samuel Applegate, whose land also bordered that of Sparks, actually waited 20 years, until 1807, to obtain his patent. Perhaps it was the required fee (10 pounds per 100 acres) or a disagreernent regarding the accuracy of the survey, that caused some delays, but we suspect that Richard's failure was because of illness and/or his early death. Perhaps it was the fact that three of his five sons were in far-off Kentucky that prevented family members from assisting their father in this matter. The only time, however, that a grantee holding a warrant actually required a patent was when he, or his heirs, wished to sell all or part of the land. For a deed conveying land through a warrant to be valid, it had to have been patented, hence the reason in 1786 that Richard Sparks signed only an "agreement" with Benjarnin to provide him with a proper deed later, at which tirne Benjamin would also pay his father the agreed upon 400 pounds for 128 acres from the grant.
Upon application to convert a warrant into a patent, besides paying the fee, it was customary for the owner to choose a name for his land, it being an old English custom useful for future identification. Today the names chosen frequently arouse curiosity regarding what lay behind their selection. A pun was surely intended when both Daniel and Benjamin Applegate chose the name "Orchard" for each of their tracts, while William Applegate was more explicit in choosing "Apple Orchard" for his tract. John Irnbly chose "Kingston," Samuel Applegate, in 1807, selected "Wheatfield," Walter Wall used "Fidelity," while his brother James chose "Lisben." Other names that the reader will note on the land map shown on page 5163 were: Andrew Pearce, Sr.'s selection of "St. Andrew" for his tract while his cousin, Andrew Pearce, Jr. chose "Recreation." (It was Andrew Pearce, Jr.'s daughter, Rachel, who would be married to the elder Richard Sparks's son, Benjamin.) No name was ever given to Richard Sparks's 308 acres, however, because no patent was ever issued to him. Future owners of parts of the Sparks tract eventually obtained patents on their own.
As noted earlier, we have not succeeded in documenting the name of Richard Sparks's first wife, who was also the mother of his children, but we know that she died before Richard, and that he was married, second, to a woman named Sarah. She was still living in 1800 and was shown as head of her household on the census of that year. Richard died, we are certain, in 1792.
When the 1790 census was taken of Elizabeth Township in Allegheny County (Forward Township not being cut off from Elizabeth until 1869), Richard Sparks was shown as heading his household, although the transcriber for publication of the 1790 census for Pennsylvania thought both he and his son Benjamin's name had been spelled "Starks." (See the transcription of this census published by the Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1966, entitled Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States in the Year 1790, Pennsylvania.) Richard Sparks, Jr.'s name was transcribed correctly.
For this first U.S. census, only the name of the head of each family (actually household) was recorded, followed by a simple enumeration of its members: males, 16 years and over; males under 16; and females regardless of age. The head of the household was also represented in the enumeration. The enumeration following the entry for the elder Richard Sparks was one male (himself) over 16; no males under 16; and 4 females. One of these females was surely his second wife, Sarah. Perhaps the other three females were daughters of Richard still living at home, or daughters of Sarah by an earlier marriage.
Our last record of Richard Sparks is dated March 23, 1792. On that date, he signed an "Agree[ment] & Bill of Sale" to Samuel Applegate, transferring to him three acres of his land, comprising the northwest corner of his tract, adjoining Samuel Applegate and James Wall. It was described as follows:
...a certain parcel of Land Lying and being in the forks and bounded as follows, Viz. Beginning at a certain line tree standing on the North side of the lick run ridge and on Jarnes Walls line, then up the said line to the top of said ridge to the corner that is made by the said Sparks and Applegate, from thence in a straight line till it strikes the corner that is betwixed the said Applegate and Hezekiah Douthitt containing three acres more or less for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty pounds of said State."
This agreement also obligated Sparks to provide "the said Applegate a deed of conveyance when he gets his deed from the Offtce." The "Office" doubtless meant the Land Office and referred to Sparks's patent not yet obtained.
According to the recorded copy of this document (Allegheny County Deed Book 33, p.387), Elijah Hart was the sole witness. It was not until December 9, 1826, that this agreement was actually recorded, by which time, on April 2, 1794, Samuel Applegate had transferred the three acres to James Applegate, and James, in turn, had transferred it to Richard Storer on November 29, 1807.
From the wording of this agreement, it is apparent that a man named Hezekiah Douthitt was living on a portion of Richard Sparks's land in March 1792, but no formal document has been found to suggest when and how such an arrangement had been made. However, on April 2, 1792, just ten days after the Sparks/Applegate agreement had been signed, the two sons of Richard Sparks (Benjamin and Richard, Jr.) signed jointly an agreement with Hezekiah Douthitt (spelled "Dowthwitt" in this latter document) to sell to him a portion of their father's 308 acres--where he was doubtless living at the time. From this we conclude that the elder Richard Sparks had died during the ten-day interval following his sale to Applegate, and that Hezekiah Douthitt was anxious to obtain a document proving his ownership of the land he had been occupying, which is shown on the land map as the north end of the Sparks grant as comprising 92 acres and 35 poles. (See also the drawing of the Sparks tract on page 5170.) (A pole in square measurement is equal to a square rod, or 30.25 square yards.)
In the words of this agreement, the two brothers, for "one hundred pounds of the State of Pennsylvania...doth obligate themselves to give said Hezt. Dowthwitt a deed of conveyance as soon as they obtain the real deed for said land and moreover we obligate ourselves to obtain the aforesaid deed." The land was descrlbed in the agreement as follows:
Beginning at the Mouth of Lick Run and Running a strait line up said run till it strikes Richard Sparks line, and then along said line till [it] strikes Sam'l. Applegates line; from thence till it strikes Elljah Hart's line; thence up Daniel Applegate's line to the place of beginning.
Benjamin and Richard Sparks, Jr. never succeeded in obtaining the promised deed, but, somehow, Douthitt managed to obtain a patent in his own name for his 92-plus acres some 42 years later, on January 8, 1834, as shown on the land map (page 5163).
The senior Richard Sparks did not leave a will, nor has any record been found pertaining to the probating of his estate. From subsequent deeds involving his two sons who were then still llving in the Forks of the Yough, we know that each was occupying a portion of his father's land, as was also their stepmother, Sarah Sparks, who held a widow's dower right to a share of her husband's estate. In the Douthitt deed noted above, the reference to the "Richard Sparks line" referred to Richard, Jr., not to his father.
by 1792, both Benjamin and Richard, Jr. had been married and had families. At least four of Benjamin's seven children had been born by then, as had five of Richard's six. Although in 1786 it had been the elder Richard Sparks's intent for Benjamin to have 148 acres of his 308-acre grant, it appears that Benjamin and Richard, Jr.'s informal division of what remained of the grant in 1792, based probably on how much had been cleared and brought under cultivation by then, resulted in Benjamin having the 95 acres on the west (shown belonging to Isaac Pangbourn on the land map), while Richard, Jr.'s portion on the south and east sides comprised 118 acres, shown on the land map as belonging to Brisbane Wall. The circumstances of the passing of these parts to Pangbourn and Wall will be noted below. (See drawing on p. 5170).
Eighteen years had passed between young Richard's release from the Shawnees and the death of his father, during which he was much involved in military affairs, largely as a scout for the Americans in fighting the Indians during and following the Revolution. He had been married in 1782 to Frances Nash, a young woman living with her parents in the "Jersey Settlement," and in the following year the first of their six children was born. Frances died with the birth of their sixth child in 1794. A number of records exist proving that Richard found it impossible to live the routine life of a farmer like his father and Benjamin. Having grown up as an Indian, he was not content to remain long in one place. Family traditions suggest that as a husband and father he was largely a failure. In 1791, he was commissioned a captain in the Pennsylvania Militia and soon thereafter joined General Arthur St. Clair, whom Washington had ordered to destroy the Miamis, and on March 5, 1792, he was commissioned a captain in the regular army of the United States. In the summer of 1794, the year his wife died, he was with General Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers where he commanded a company. After the death of Frances, their children were reared by relatives, including Richard's stepmother, Sarah Sparks. Seven years passed before he saw his children after his wife's death. Richard rented his share of his father's land to a man named Ezra Brandt. On June 29, 1797, he was married, second, to Ruth Sevier, daughter of General John Sevier, a famous Indian fighter and hero of the American Revolution, who had become Governor of the new state of Tennessee in 1796. During the remainder of his military career, Richard Sparks, Jr. was associated with the Old Southwest. In 1806, he was promoted to the rank of major in the U.S. Second Infantry, and by 1809 he had advanced to lieutenant colonel. On July 6, 1812, he became a full colonel.
Benjamin Sparks continued as a farmer on his portion of his father's land until his untimely death in 1801. His wife, Rachel (Pearce) Sparks, daughter of Andrew, Jr. and Massa Pearce, was left with seven children, five of whom were under age, including two who were mere infants.
The cause of Benjamin's early death will probably never be known, although he did have time to make his will, which is given in full in the sketch of Benjamin's life beginning on page 5177. He left both his real and personal estate to his wife for her use during her widowhood in rearing their minor children.
In the same year that Benjamin Sparks died, 1801, his brother, Capt. Richard Sparks, returned to the "Jersey Settlement" for a visit; he was accompanied by his second wife, Ruth (Sevier) Sparks. Our knowledge of this visit, and its connection to the story of the elder Richard Sparks's land warrant for which a patent was never obtained, is found in a most unusual source--the will of Garret Wall, son-in-law of then-Captain Richard Sparks. Garret Wall (1778-1849), a member of the Wall family long associated with the Sparks family in the Forks of the Yough, had been married to Mary Sparks, the eldest daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks. Mary died in 1821 and Garret Wall was married a second time to Mary Watson. He had children by both wives, and in his 1846 will, he explained in some detail why he left none of his estate to his children by his first wife. He believed that he had been cheated by their grandfather, beginning with Richard's 1801 visit.
The following is quoted from Garret Wall's will dated May 29, 1846, on file among the probate records in the Allegheny County Court House. (Some punctuation has been added, but Wall's spelllng has not been corrected.)
My first Father in law, Capt. Richard Sparks of the United States army, had six Children by his first wife, who were billited amongst their friends in this Neighborhood after their Mothers death, until I Marryed his eldest daughter. A few weeks after I Married his daughtor he cald in this Neighbourhood on hfs way to the War Office, not having seen his children from the death of their Mother, some five or six years, haveing paid but little attention to them....He my Father in law...[stated] that if I would perform certaln servaces for him he would make me a Deed for the tract of land whereon I now live, saying he considered I would have a good bargain for he considered the land, altho poor, and with the incumbrance of his Stepmoehters dower wright, to be worth five hundred dollars. . . .
Altho I spent seven hundred dollars in his, Sparks, Services including about 200 Dollars of debets paid for him in Pittsburgh, in all 200 Dollars more than the valuation put on the land by himself. Forty six years ago this land was thought but of little value, there was when I came to it but thirty four acres cleared, besides some eight or ten acres in possession of Grandmother Sparks. The thirty four acres had been in the hands of tenants for some thirteen years [and] was must exausted, bore llttle else than peneroyal, and in a manner destitute of fenies [fences]. Sparks treated me dishonestly. After acknowledging again and again...that I had performed my part of the contract, but he would take special care not to send the promised deed or convayance....The fact is the land is justly mine. I paid a high price for it. . . .Sparks never returned to see his children after he left his children with me....
From 1801, the five younger sibllngs of Mary Sparks lived with her and her husband. The reason that Richard Sparks never provided Garret Wall with a deed to the land was simply because he could not do so, since the elder Richard Sparks had never obtained his patent. In fact, during their 1801 visit, Richard and Ruth Sparks had signed a power of attorney on July 6, 1801, for Joseph Beckett, an old neighbor and justice of the peace:
. . . Firmly to execute a good firm Warrantee deed to my old farm or plantation. . . lately in the Tenure of Ezra Brandt Joining lands with Garret Applegate and others, to Confirm it over to my Son in law Garret Wall and Mary his wife. . . . I also Constitute and [direct] my said attorney to grant, Bargain and Sell all my part portion and share of the grist Mill Built in partnership with Joseph Applegate. . . Togeather with my part of the lot of land it is Situated on Containing about Twenty Acres.. . . I also ordain him my said attorney Firmly to execute a good Warrantee deed to Hezekia Douthit for the tract of Land and [on which] said Douthett now llves on, agreeable to a article I signed for that purpose...
This document, signed by Richard and Ruth Sparks, was witnessed by Robert McFarland, Martin Andrews, and Saml. Walker. It was recorded on March 30, 1803, in Allegheny County Deed Book L.II, p.295.
It is apparent that Joseph Beckett failed to obtain a patent for the portion of the land grant of the elder Richard Sparks to which Richard, Jr. claimed inheritance. Finally, however, in his will made on March 6, 1814, he, then as Colonel Richard Sparks, as his first provision, stated:
In the first place I give and devise to my daughter, Polly Wall, the tract of land she now resides on in Alleghany County in the state of Pennsylvania, containing two hundred & fifty or three hundred acres be the same more or less, to her and her heirs forever.
"Polly" was the nickname of Mary (Sparks) Wall. Her father considerably exaggerated the amount of land that he and his brother, Benjamin, had agreed long ago should be Richard's share, seeming to suggest that he had inherited nearly the entire tract that had constituted his father's claim. But, in any case, it was Richard's will that finally made legal the promise he had made in 1801 to Garret Wall, although it was Garret's wife who became the heir. From Garret's will, however, we know that he continued to live on what had been Richard's farm even after Mary's death on November 10, 1821. With Garret's death on January 13, 1848, it passed to his and Mary's son, Brisben Wall. It was Brisben Wall who finally succeeded in obtaining a patent for the 118 acres and 85 polls on October 28, 1848. (See the land map on page 5163 and the drawing on page 5170.)
As noted earlier, Benjamin Sparks, in his will dated July 26, 1801, which was entered into probate on September 19th of the same year, had directed that his wife, Rachel, should have the use of both his real and personal estate for the support and education of their minor children. As will be discussed in more detail in the article devoted to Benjamin and his family, it was in 1817 that Benjamin's heirs sold their claim to his land to Amos Robins. From Benjamin's surviving children's agreement with Robins in 1817, it is apparent that during the years that had passed since their father's death in 1801 and that of their uncle in 1815, Benjamin's surviving children had forgotten that it had been their grandfather, the elder Richard Sparks, who had squatted on, and subsequently obtained, a warrant, but not a patent, to the original tract of 308 acres. When they found the unrecorded agreement by the elder Richard Sparks to sell to, and, when possible, provide a deed to his son, Benjamin, dated May 1, 1786, for 128 acres, the children of Benjamin appear to have assumed that this had been signed by Benjamin's brother, Richard Sparks, Jr. and that it had been Richard, Jr. to whom the warrant had been issued. How they reconciled the fact that this agreement, which had never been carried out, called for 128 acres whereas Benjamin's farm comprised only 91-plus acres, is difficult to imagine.
Amos Robins saw to it that included in his agreement was a promise that Benjamin's children "shall and will at the proper costs and charges. . . as soon as the nature of the above indentury. . . be deemed sufficient in law, convey and assure in fee simple, clear of all incumbrance unto the said Amos Robins his heirs and assigns all the aforesaid tract of land. . ." (These 1817 agreements were recorded in Allegheny County Deed Book 24, pp.340-46.)
The problem regarding the legal status of Benjamin Sparks's land continued. On December 11, 1819, Amos Robins sold a half-interest in the tract to Samuel Robins for $600. Although called a deed, the document contained the following: ". . . Amos Robins doth further covenant and agree. . . that he will in a reasonable time, at the joint expense of him and the said Samuel make or cause to be made. . . a good and sufficient Deed in fee simple. . ." Interestingly, when this deed was recorded on May 5, 1829, the 1786 "Agreemt" between the elder Richard Sparks and Benjamin, with Joseph Beckett's addendum of November 6, 1809, was recorded immediately following. It had not been recorded previously. (Allegheny County Deed Book 38, pp.309-10) Amos and Samuel Robbins had neglected to have their agreement of 1819 recorded until 1829, at which time they sold the Benjamin Sparks tract to Isaac Pangborn or Pangbourn), and it was Pangborn who finally succeed in obtaining a patent for it on January 26,1830, as shown on the land map reproduced on page 5163. On page 5170 is a more readable drawing of the 308-acre tract for which the elder Richard Sparks received a warrant in 1786, showing the division of it over the years.
The agreement to sell to Samuel Applegate the 3 acres (see opposite) included a reference to a corner "betwixed the said Applegate and Hezekah Douthit." It is apparent that Douthit (also spelled Douthett and Doughitt) was then living on the north end of Sparks's tract, probably with the understanding that he could purchase it. Soon after the death of Richard Sparks, his sons, Benjamin and Richard, Jr., sold on April 2, 1792, to Douthitt 92 acres & 35 poles for 100 pounds Pennsylvania money, promising to provide a proper deed at a later date. (Their father had never obtained a patent to his 308-acre grant after receiving a warrant in 1786.) Douthitt managed to obtain a patent to his tract from the state of Pennsylvania on June 5, 1834.
It was probably soon after the death of their father that Benjamin and Richard Sparks, Jr. agreed on how they would divide the remaining land. Their portions differed in size, but they were probably similar in value. Benjamin's farm was found to comprise 95 acres and 111 poles. In his will of 1801, he left all of his estate to his wife, Rachel, for her to rear and educate their children. In 1817, she and her six surviving children sold their claim to this land to Amos Robins. It came into the possession of Isaac Pangborn (also spelled Pangbourn) prior to 1829, and he succeeded in obtaining a patent for it from the state of Pennsylvania on January 26,1830.
On March 23, 1792, shortly before his death, the older Richard Sparks sold this triangular piece of land comprising aobut 3 acres to Samuel Applegate, who owned adjoining land. Lacking a patent, Sparks could only promise to provide a deed sometime in the future. Samuel Applegate transferred these 3 acres in 1794 to James Applegate, who sold them to Richard Storer in 1809. Whether one of these men, or a later owner, ever obtained a patent for this small tract of land is not known.
It was doubtless because their father had not obtained a patent for his 308-acre grant that Benjamin and Richard, Jr did not execute deeds formalizing their agreement. They were probably already living on this land at the time. Richard's portion was found later to contain 118 acres & 85 poles. Although in 1801 he had promised this land to his son-in-law Garrett Wall, he was never able to provide him with an actual deed, and in his will in 1815, Richard Sparks left it to his daughter, Mary, Garret's wife. It passed to her and Garrett's son, Brisben Wall, after Garret died and on October 23, 1848, Brisben Wall obtained a patent for it from the state of Pennsylvania.
The five sons of the elder Richard Sparks were:
James Sparks, born ca. 1752;
Benjamin Sparks, born ca. 1754;
Richard Sparks, Jr., born ca. 1757;
Walter Sparks, born ca. 1760; and
Daniel Sparks, born on February 10, 1763.
There was also at least one daughter of the elder Richard Sparks whose name was Elizabeth Sparks.
32.1 James Sparks, the oldest of the children of the senior Richard Sparks, was the subject of an article in the Quarterly of September 1994, Whole No. 167, beginning on page 4324. In the surviving Court Minutes of Yogohania County, Virginia, dated April 24, 1780, at a time when Virginia claimed what would become the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, there appears a reference to James Sparks. With fifteen other men, including John and Walter Wall, James served in "a grand Inquest for the body of this County. . ." Like Benjamin and Richard Sparks, Jr., James Sparks served in the American Revolution and, as a resident of Jackson County, Indiana, in 1833, a year before he died, he applied for a pension based on that service. His pension papers, in which he recalled that service and his places of residence before and after, provide an important source for telllng his life story. He stated that it had been in 1782 that he had moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky; his name appeared on a tax list there the same year. He and his wife, Caty (Catherine Padget) Sparks, were the parents of eight children, the first four of whom had been born in what became Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, before the family moved to Kentucky. Their names were:
32.1.1 Stephen Sparks, born June 25, 1775
32.1.2 Ailcy (Sparks) Newkirk, born March 11, 1777
32.1.3 Benjamin Sparks, born July 1, 1778
32.1.4 Henry Sparks, born ca.1780
32.1.5 Elizabeth (Sparks) Richter, or Rector, born ca.1783
32.1.6 James Sparks, born ca.1785
32.1.7 Moses Sparks, born ca.1789
32.1.8 Walter Sparks, born ca.1794.
32.2 Benjamin Sparks was born ca. 1754. He was the only son of the elder Richard Sparks to spend his entire life in the Forks of the Yough where his parents had come as pioneers prior to 1760. He married Rachel Pearce. We tell his life story in the following article.
32.3 Richard Sparks, Jr, third son of the senior Richard Sparks, was born between 1757 and 1760. Although he was born before his parents moved from New Jersey to the Forks of the Yough, settling in what is now Forward Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, we know that he was only a small lad, probably no older than four or five years, when he was stolen (today we would say kidnapped) by some Shawnee Indians. Reared as an Indian, and having forgotten his parents and siblings, Richard was returned to his family only after the defeat of the Shawnees in the Battle of Point Pleasant on December 4, 1774, by an army of Virginians under command of Governor Dunrnore. As noted earlier in this article, he was "civilized" by his family, and during the American Revolution he became a valued guide for the milltary, eventually becoming an officer in the U.S. Army. He was commissioned as a captain in 1792 and rose to the rank of colonel. His life story was recounted in the Quarterly of September 1974, Whole No. 87, with a reproduction of his painted portrait on the cover. Further information appeared in the Quarterly of September 1998, Whole No. 183, pp.5032-35. by his first wife, Frances Nash, Richard was the father of five daughters: Mary ["Polly"] (Sparks) Wall, born January 26, 1783; Catherine (Sparks) McClure; Charity (Sparks) Budd; Elizabeth (Sparks) Breazeale; and Elenor (Sparks) Printy. (Charity Sparks was married three times, becoming Charity Cooper and Charity Printy, as well as Charity Budd.) Richard and Frances Sparks also had a son, Jesse Sparks, who is believed to have died in his youth. Richard's first wife, Frances, died ca. 1794, and his daughters were reared by relatives in Pennsylvania until the oldest daughter, Mary, married Garret Wall; thereafter, until they came of age, Mary's sisters llved in the Wall household. Richard Sparks, Jr. was married, second, to Ruth Sevier in 1797. There were no children by this second marriage. Because of suffering a stroke, he was required to resign his U.S. Army commission and he died in Mississippi in 1815.
32.4 Walter Sparks, fourth son of the elder 32. Richard Sparks, was born ca. 1760, probably while his parents were still living in Middlesex County, New Jersey. An article devoted to Walter Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of December 1987, Whole No. 140, beginning on page 3130. Our earliest record of Walter is that of his signing an "Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity" to the American side in the Revolution dated May 25, 1778. We know that he was a member of Joseph Beckett's Company, a militia unit organized to fight the British. Beckett owned a large amount of land on the Monongahela River very near the grant that the elder Richard Sparks received in 1786. Walter moved to Kentucky to join his brothers, 32.1 James and 32.5 Daniel, paying taxes in Jefferson County as early as 1792, the same year his father died and that Kentucky was admitted to the Union. His wife's name was Phoebe; she and Walter both apparently died in Jefferson County, Kentucky, ca. 1827/30. They appear to have had ten children:
32.4.1 Richard Sparks born December 24, 1781;
32.4.2 Elijah Sparks, born ca. 1783;
32.4.3 William Sparks, born ca. 1785;
32.4.4 Hannah (Sparks) Smith born 1789;
32.4.5 Daniel Sparks, born ca. 1790;
32.4.6 James Sparks, born ca. 1791;
32.4.7 Joanna (or Johannah) (Sparks) Lovelace, born August 16, 1793;
32.4.8 Ezra Sparks, born ca. 1795;
32.4.9 Walter Sparks, Jr., ca. 1800; and
32.4.10 Elizabeth (Sparks) Smith, born ca. 1802.
Information on each of these children appears in the December 1987 issue of the Quarterly.
32.5 Daniel Sparks, the youngest son of the elder Richard Sparks, was featured in the Quarterly of September 1993, Whole No. 153. He was born February 10, 1763, according to a family record that appears to have been copied from an earlier record in a family Bible. We believe that he was born while his parents were still living in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Like his brothers, James and Walter, Daniel Sparks moved to Kentucky as a young man. His name appears on a poll list for Jefferson County there dated April 2, 1782, and on June 4, 1782, he was a witness to an agreement between John Helm and Moses Kuykendale, the latter being his brother-in-law who had also moved to Kentucky. On June 28, 1792, he was elected captain of the First Regiment of Jefferson County Militia, which suggests that he must have had prior military experience. On May 23, 1788, Daniel Sullivan transferred to Daniel Sparks a 100-acre tract on Beargrass Creek in Jefferson County that Sullivan had received as a Virginia land grant for military service in the Revolution.
Daniel Sparks was married twice. No record has been found of his first wife other than that she and Daniel had two children: Samuel Ketchum Sparks and Rebecca Sparks. Samuel's middle name may suggest that his mother's maiden name may have been Ketchum. A Samuel Ketchum had died in the summer of 1778 according to a Yohogania County, Virginia, Court order that Andrew Pearce, Richard Johnson, James Wall, and Richard Sparks should prepare the inventory of Ketchum's estate on August 24, 1778. (See below the fact that Samuel Ketchum's widow was 32.6 Elizabeth Sparks, a sister of Daniel Sparks.) Daniel Sparks was married, second, to Sarah Bogard in 1789. He moved from Kentucky to Clark County, Indiana, in or ca. 1811; he died there in 1820. His second wife, Nancy (Bogard) Sparks, was still living in 1827. She and Daniel were the parents of twelve children. The family record noted earlier provides dates of birth for all twelve children, as well as for Daniel's two children by his first wife. They were:
32.5.1 Samuel Ketchum Sparks, born August 10, 1786
32.5.2 Rebecca Sparks, born March 25, 1788
32.5.3 Valentine Sparks, born September 26, 1790
32.5.4 Orson Sparks, born July 9, 1792
32.5.5 Nimrod Sparks, born June 11, 1894
32.5.6 Delila Sparks, born July 18, 1796
32.5.7 Massa Sparks, born December 22, 1798
32.5.8 Hector Sparks, born December 21, 1799
32.5.9 Daniel B. Sparks, born March 28, 1801
32.5.10 Harmon N. Sparks, born December 1, 1803
32.5.11 Elizabeth Sparks, born April 1, 1809 (this could be 1807)
32.5.12 Nancy Sparks, born April 1, 1810
32.5.13 Catherine ["Caty"] Sparks, born 3 February 1812
32.5.14 Hannah H. Sparks, born December 28, 1813.
32.6 Elizabeth Sparks, a daughter of the elder Richard Sparks, was married, first to Samuel Ketchum, who died in the summer of 1778. (See the reference to the fact that her brother, Daniel Sparks, named his first son, born in 1786, Samuel Ketchum Sparks, page 5172.) At a meeting of the Yohogania County, Virginia, Court on August 24, 1778, "Letters of Administration" were granted to "Elizabeth Ketchum and Willlam Ketchum, the Widow and bro'r. of Samuel Ketchum, decd." On the same day, the elder Richard Sparks was one of four men ordered to make an inventory of the Ketchum estate, a task reported as completed by the Court meeting on October 26, 1778. Elizabeth (Sparks) Ketchum was married, second, to Moses Kuykendale (or Kuykendall) a widower who had been born ca. 1748, a son of Benjamin and Sarah (Feree) Kuykendale. He and Elizabeth, who was often called "Betsey," migrated with the Sparks brothers to Jefferson County, Kentucky, in or ca. 1782. Elizabeth had had a daughter named
32.6.1 Hannah Ketchum by her first husband, who, under a marriage bond dated January 20, 1792, married Samuel Griffy. Moses Kuykendale served as bondsman and was identified therein as Hannah Ketchum's step-father.
Moses died prior to June 20, 1808, for on that date his widow, Elizabeth (Sparks) Ketchum Kuykendall, married her third husband, Willlam Steele. We have found no record of Elizabeth Sparks having children other than her daughter, Hannah.